Surgery for colitis has to be faced up to by a small percentage of sufferers and though the problems living with the symptoms of the disease are over, what then begins is a whole new set of challenges. But what does the patient face physically when the surgical procedures are complete?
For the first stage of the surgery involves the removal of all the large colon including the extraction of the rectum. Even though only part of the large colon may be diseased, enough for surgery to be required in the first place, there is no option but for it to be removed entirely. It is important not to lose sight that this surgical process to remove the colon and rectum is the only permanent cure for colitis. It should also be noted that such surgery also eliminates any risk of being diagnosed with colon cancer.
Once the colon has been removed, a small opening is formed in the abdominal wall and the end of the small colon, which was formerly attached to the large colon, is then pushed through and attached to the skin. The size of what is termed an ileostomy, or stoma, will normally be between one and two inches. So what happens with this? This will be the outlet for the body waste that would have otherwise passed through the large colon as normal. It is then collected in a small bag which is attached to the skin and covers the stoma entirely. The bag is then emptied periodically when necessary.
The thought of living with part of the small intestine sticking out the front of the abdomen may not be appealing but it has to be remembered that it is all an essential part of the process to rid the patient of colitis. It is normally only temporary as the surgical consultants will do their best to try and create a more user friendly system of storing and riding the body of its solid waste.
In most cases, there will be an attempt to create an internal pouch created from the end of the small intestine that is then attached to the anus. This acts as an effective reservoir for the collection of solid waste which is then evacuated in the same manner as when the patient had a large colon. This complicated surgical procedure will happen some time after the initial operation and will probably be given further convalescence time before being connected up. The surgical term for this procedure is an ileo anal pouch which, and after a period of getting used to, can give a very encouraging degree of normality of life back to many patients who have undergone this surgical procedure.
Surgery for colitis is a last solution for those faced with the onslaught of symptoms and as such should never be considered until many methods to try and control the symptoms have been tried and have not succeeded. It has to be understood that it is a major surgical procedure and unfortunately comes with no cast iron guarantee of success. It brings with it many challenges and can for some be too problematic, yet for many it is the solution to the debilitating effect colitis has on their lives.